2023 Topical Cream Benefit Gala Recap
Celebrating Ten Years
On April 19th, 2023, we gathered with over one-hundred guests at the Angel Orensanz Foundation on the Lower East Side to celebrate Topical Cream’s tenth anniversary at our first-ever gala. The gala honored multidisciplinary artist Camille Henrot, whose work interrogates the most pressing issues facing our world today by bridging ancient myths about motherhood and birth with contemporary concerns about waste and sustainability.
Camille’s 2020 painting Wet Job, which we featured in an in-depth interview about her show Mother Tongue in 2021, anchored the event—quite literally, as it was installed adjacent to the podium during the gala’s main program. Camille graciously donated the painting to benefit our organization as we look to build our next decade of programming.
Nine additional artists from our community donated work to the silent auction, including Ebecho Muslimova, Emily Mae Smith, Francesca Wade, Jade Lai, Lena Henke, Maia Ruth Lee, Michele Abeles, Nicole Eisenman, and Raque Ford. Like Camille, many of these artists create works that challenge the gender politics of traditional figurative painting. Ebecho Muslimova’s donation depicted her iconic Fatebe character blasting off toward the moon, while Nicole Eisenman’s contributions blended portraits of the twentieth-century artist Francis Picabia with selfies taken via Snapchat.
Caitlin Rider, painter Jade Lai, and Art Director Seth Zucker enjoy pre-dinner cocktails.
As our guests filtered into the building, they were given the opportunity to view and bid on the works in the auction, which were installed on the Foundation’s second floor. A cocktail hour featuring sparkling wine by Rev Zovine, and food pile, curated by Jen Monroe of Bad Taste Biz, fueled guests as they mingled with friends new and old.
A brief vocal performance by Sahra Motalebi opened the main event. Artist Marie Karlberg served as Master of Ceremonies, taking the stage throughout the night to provide brief remarks as guests enjoyed Bad Taste’s dinner menu, which made ample use of fresh spring produce. In true Topical Cream spirit, Marie’s quips were at once humorous, anecdotal, and pointedly political—at one point, she commented on how warm it felt in the building, removing her top layer of clothing to reveal a Thank God For Abortion t-shirt underneath.
Both Marie and our 2023 Editor-in-Residence, Ruba Katrib, referenced their early interactions with Camille in their remarks, underscoring the artist’s generosity as a collaborator. Marie had been invited by Camille to perform at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris as part of the carte blanche that she was given by the kunsthalle in 2017, and Ruba co-organized the exhibition Puddle, pothole, portal with Camille at SculptureCenter in 2014, introducing American audiences to her work for the very first time.
With Ruba, our Director Lyndsy Welgos introduced Camille and gave her the night’s award. Lyndsy recalled her time interviewing Camille in 2021, commenting on how moved she was by the artist’s candor in talking about her experiences as a new mother, and the sensitivity she showed in thinking through the links between postpartum depression and psychological responses to the climate crisis.
In her opening speech, Lyndsy reflected on her reasons for founding Topical Cream ten years ago, seeking to counter an art media ecosystem that had a long history of marginalizing and undervaluing the work of women and gender non-conforming artists, particularly those who aren’t at the center of the market. Her speech was a gesture of gratitude, a thank-you to those in the audience who had helped to transform Topical Cream into a collective record for women and gender non-conforming artists, writers, and curators. But it was also a call to action and a reminder that we cannot rest on our laurels. “Let us honor the achievements of the past, while also looking to the future with hope and determination,” Lyndsy said. “Let us pledge to do everything in our power to ensure that the voices of women and gender non-conforming artists are heard, valued, and celebrated.”
As with any Topical Cream event, the gala concluded with a dance party, featuring a DJ set by Venus X. Notable guests included Arden Wohl, Deana Haggag, Julia Huxtable, Gia Kuan, Eri Wakiyama, Taylor Trabulus, Katy Brandes, Diya Vij, Sophie Morner, Cajsa von Zeipel, Bree Zucker, Ralph Deluca, Meriem Bennani, Suzanne Geiss, and more.
Jane Hait, Julia Trotta, Lily Smith, Lyndsy Welgos, Katy Brandes, Marcella Zimmermann, Seth Stolbun, Yulu Serao
Arden Wohl, Erin Knutson, Gia Kuan, Heather Flow, Jade Lai, Juliana Huxtable, Lena Henke, Maia Ruth Lee, Marie Karlberg, Raque Ford, Ruba Katrib, Seth Zucker
Ara Anjargolian, Elizabeth Baribeau, Elizabeth Wiet, Rosie Motley, Ruba Katrib